The DME internship thrives due to the dedication and skills of our interns. In these posts highlighting the work of individual interns, you can get a sneak peek into what they do, how it’s developing them, and whether DME might be a good fit for you too! If you’re interested in joining us, please see the link at the bottom of the blog post.

For this intern spotlight we spoke with one of our past interns Leah Comins, who served as the Executive Leadership Team member for Special Projects. This post takes a look at where she is now, advice she has for current and future interns, and how DME helped her achieve success.

Interested in seeing what other interns are up to? Check out our other intern spotlights here!

What is your current occupation?

Account Coordinator at John Guilfoil Public Relations in Greater Boston, Massachusetts

How did your time at DME help you reach your goals?

The VA gave me a huge portfolio of writing and editing work that I was able to share online and present to future employers. It’s also very helpful to be able to say that you were an intern for the VA. That’s a well-known and respected organization, and to have a future employer know that you’re a part of the communication work that is seen by millions is, honestly, a great booster to your resume. Most importantly, honoring the everyday heroes that our Veterans are was very much in line with my values. Doing this work for the VA helped solidify the idea I had of what I wanted to do with my career.

Are there any skills you practiced at DME that you still use?

I use pretty much every skill I practiced with DME, so you basically couldn’t ask for anything more from an internship. The greatest thing I was able to practice with DME was AP Style. That transferred over exactly into my public relations career and it was obvious to me how much I had learned about AP Style at the end of my two years. Each of my responsibilities with the VA revolved around writing, including storytelling, editing and considering the audience. Reviewing written work and making corrections as needed also helped me become a better writer.

In addition, considering our audience when creating #VeteranoftheDay pieces was an important responsibility. We have to be careful to not sensationalize or editorialize the service of any veteran we feature. This includes carefully considering word choice and phrasing. As a public relations professional, I work with the media and public which requires communication skills and an understanding of messaging strategies, each of which I practiced while with the DME. Properly communicating a message for the intended audience is crucial for any communications professional. In addition, understanding that my communications work was a representation of the VA made proper communication one of my most important obligations, and this has transferred over to my career where I write on behalf of the company as well as our clients.

What are your future goals?

I do public relations work for a number of police, fire, local government and public school clients. Doing public relations for police departments was my career goal, so my current job was basically my dream job. But it’s always good to have goals, so my future goal is to work as the public relations professional for one police department rather than for a range of clients. Very specific, I know.

Is there anything you’d like to say to prospective DME interns?

My number one thing is to have confidence in yourself. For example, if you’re an editor, don’t be afraid to (reasonably) “take a red pen” to people’s work. We’re all here to get experience and to learn, and we can all learn from each other. Another part of having confidence in yourself, is not being afraid to volunteer to take on new projects. Brainstorm ideas for new projects or new written features, take on a leadership position, make suggestions on how to improve our processes, etc. The interns really have the opportunity to mold how the program will work in the future, so if you have suggestions, don’t be afraid to share them.

And be sure to work hard! I always hated when professors said “you get out of this what you put into it,” but it’s definitely true for DME. Everyone in the DME program is willing to help you get into a team leadership position, serve as references or write recommendation letters for you. But, they can’t do that if you’re not around. And trust me, your department heads, executive leadership team and program coordinators notice your hard work.

Interested in joining the DME Interns team? Click here to find out more and sign up to be notified when applications open!